NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For the first time since 2018, thousands of athletes were able to compete in the New York City Triathlon once again Sunday, but this year’s race took a unique turn.

After a two-year hiatus, the triathlon kicked off with an unusual start. Instead of diving into the Hudson River, the race began with a one-mile run.

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“There’s things you can control and things you can’t, and, you know, it’s still going to be fun out there,” participant Darlene Miranda told CBS2’s Christina Fan.

Recent heavy rainfall caused bacteria levels in the Hudson to test nine times higher than what is deemed safe, turning the triathlon into a duathlon.

There was a little disappointment.

“I was looking for a big day today on the swim, a PR number, and it kind of was disheartening this morning to hear they canceled the swim,” said Ray Rivera, of Staten Island.

But families say considering the race was canceled back to back, first because of excessive heat and then COVID, they were elated just to be there.

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“He’s been trying to do it, I think, the past, what, two years, but they had the pandemic and then weather-related the year before, so we’re here to cheer him on. He’ll be 60 this year,” spectator Joanne Paiano said.

Competitors say overcoming obstacles is what is race is all about.

After the first leg, athletes continued on with the bicycle course up the West Side Highway. They finished with a foot race through Central Park.

“Today’s a great day. Great to see everybody out, having a good time,” one athlete said.\

Nearly 2,000 athletes signed up for this year’s triathlon.

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CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team